The events in Paris on Friday, November 13 makes everything else in life seem frivolous. But even though the wounds of these terrorist attacks are still fresh and sore, and there are clearly other more vital and integral problems to try and comprehend and deal with, cinema can act like a great healer. It allows people to emote, to cry, to laugh, and to just plain old escape. But with Paris and France on alert, French moviegoers haven’t been able, or willing, to head to cinemas after these attacks.
And, because of the fact that French audiences have understandably not been heading to their local cinemas, the box office intake in the country for the likes of Spectre and The Martian have suffered.
Rentrak, which estimates and measures the performance of movies across the globe, has estimated that Spectre lost around 20 percent of its opening weekend gross in France because of cinema closures. Meanwhile, according to The Hollywood Reporter, The Martian also suffered a rather huge dip because of the attacks too.
There is still hope that a wider audience will, eventually, see these films, though. That’s because after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January, which saw terrorists force their way into the offices of the satirical newspaper before they then murdered 11 people inside, cinema audiences also dipped. But they eventually recovered in the subsequent weeks. It’s now been predicted that while there will be "similar short-term declines" to the French box office, this isn’t expected it have a "long-term impact."
However, the extremity and randomness of the locations of these attacks means that the situation is slightly different to the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo tragedy. Viewers suddenly might find themselves wondering if even visiting a packed theatre, where hundreds of people are likely to be gathered, is safe. Unfortunately, a variety of incidents in the USA, where gunmen have entered into screenings and then murdered dozens of innocent civilians who simply gathered together to watch a film, prove that there is precedent for these individuals to target multiplexes.
Even French moviegoers interviewed by THR revealed that they had some concerns about going to a cinema in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks. One patron outside the Gaumont Opera theater insisted, "[The attacks] are in the back of my mind." However, as an act of defiance against the terrorists, he ultimately decided to go, but still added, "Call me crazy, I have to see it with my friends. If something were to happen, a bullet is a bullet, but I would rather be together."
Over the coming days, weeks, months, and, for some, probably even years, people might find themselves entering into cinemas with more trepidation. They could even find themselves becoming even more wary that something tragic is about to occur during showings. This is natural. But these fears will also ultimately subside. And while, at the moment, we all feel like life will never return to normal, it simply has to. Otherwise those responsible for what occurred on Friday November 13 will have won. And even though it probably feels like nothing, going to see Spectre or The Martian is proof that we will overcome.
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